Where there is no party line

Almost five years since the first stamp paper was stamped at a registrar’s office in Chennai, it might be a good time to share some thoughts and experiences to deter other thoughtful, unsuspecting souls from attempting something similar.

Think tanking in the age of extreme partisanship

Takshashila People

One reason there has been a fall (okay, precipitous fall) in the frequency of posts on this blog is that the day-to-day challenges of building an upstart think tank drain one’s time and energy. Another is laziness, lethargy and procrastination. Yet another is twitter, which is still the path of least resistance for the current of thought to reach the ground of public discourse. Laziness and twitter are easy to understand reasons, but what is this business of building a think tank? Almost five years since the first stamp paper was stamped at a registrar’s office in Chennai, it might be a good time to share some thoughts and experiences to deter other thoughtful, unsuspecting souls from attempting something similar.

This post is written with the intent of being the first in a series. But just like how N is initially unknown in a 1/N series of tweets, it is by no means certain that this series will be any longer than this first post. With that disclaimer, let us look at two of our core values: funding, and independence & non-partisanship.

From the outset, Takshashila’s founders decided that the organisation, a non-profit public charitable trust, will operate solely on Indian money. After all, it would be ironic for an ambition that reads “building the intellectual foundations of an India with global interests” to be financed with foreign donations. Also, foreign funding would hand detractors and opponents of our ideas a convenient handle to deliberately mischaracterise our public policy arguments as playing to a foreign agenda. Since many of the arguments that we make ruthlessly in the national interest are counter-intuitive, they are vulnerable to smear campaigns. Imagine arguing (as we have done) for 100% FDI in defence production with an unconditional, unrelated grant from a respected foreign foundation. The elimination of foreign funding has made life a lot more tougher than it could have been, but since we are set for the long haul, it is a price we have happily paid.

Maintaining independence and non-partisanship the other hard challenge, and one we’ve managed to address quite well. First, while it is relatively easy to manage an organisation (a private corporation, an association or a political party) that has an official view that everyone must fall in line with (or leave), it is much more difficult to manage one that doesn’t. A think tank and a public policy school cannot function effectively unless its members have full intellectual freedom. Yet when this freedom causes a diversity of opinions to be expressed, there is often a internal tension among those supporting different positions, and an external confusion as to whether the institution supports one or the other view. The one on whose shoulders falls the job of managing the institution, yours truly’s in this case, has to act as a mediator, negotiating platform and conciliator internally, and an official disclaimer-issuer and ‘brand manager’ externally. This is not easy. Worse, in a small start-up institution like ours, there is always the possibility that my own views–and those of the other co-founders–are conflated with that of the organisation’s, which sometimes leads to pulled punches, less trenchant blog posts and blander language in newspaper columns.

Since 2010, public discourse in India has become edgy, sharply divisive and polarised. Everyone is quick to paint an unfamiliar or unsavoury opinion as an attack on one’s favoured politician or party. The political campaigns of the 2014 general election had massive online components, and online political entrepreneurs seeking to gain political prominence and spoils of power by attacking ‘the other side’. So Takshashila was on Congress payroll for the BJP’s vociferous online partisans (who we endearingly call “the wrong wing”), an RSS front for the Congress’s beleaguered but spirited online brigade and pro-corruption for Anna Hazare & Arvind Kejriwal supporters. The Communists somehow forgot to attack us, which is perhaps an indication of their irrelevance, or ours. Kabira had gone to the bazaar to ask for everyone’s well-being, but ended up being attacked by them all. There is a lesson in this which we took and we teach.

Another interesting phenomenon was that those who donated to us—including Rohini Nilekani, our first donor—did not once even hint what positions Takshashila should or shouldn’t take. But those who didn’t give us any money often vociferously insisted what political positions we should take for our own good. It is now not too hard to detect political partisans pretending to be broad-minded philanthropists. It is also heartening that there are enough of the latter to lend their support to us, in big or small ways.

I have always found the allegation “you are saying this because XYZ is your donor” an indication of the person making the allegation projecting his own values on his target. As acts of honour and integrity even in today’s famously compromised media industry show, not everyone who draws a pay cheque necessarily dances to the tunes of the owners or donors. For small startups like ours, with low stakes, it is relatively inexpensive to be independent and non-partisan and call things as we see them. Judgement calls on the safety of our members and their families apart, there is little to make us toe anyone’s line. So we merrily advocate what we see as the national interest, and we try to persuade others to see things our way.

This does not mean that we are “neutral”. Our ideological leanings are openly advertised: freedom, a culture of tolerance, an open society and strengthening India’s national power. These set of ideas can be called “liberal nationalism”, but it is the values that matter, not the label.

It’s not enough to be and act independently and in a non-partisan manner. It is important to be perceived as such by the people we are trying to persuade. That was a problem I had no good solution for until the good Jay Panda, BJD MP from Odisha, gave me an idea from his own experience: set up a Ombudsman with a mandate to deal with complaints regarding these values. The Ombudsman can also solicit informal and formal feedback if he deems necessary. So we instituted a powerful Ombudsman—a trustee with no role in management—who anyone can directly write to. It’s early days yet, but this does appear a good process to manage the tensions that arise from an organisation whose members are making forceful arguments in a politicised public discourse. In our view, “non-partisanship does not mean non-engagement. On the contrary, Takshashila’s policy remains to engage with all political parties while remaining firmly independent of them. We believe that engagement with the political process is an important aspect in achieving public outcomes in a democracy.”

The biggest asset Takshashila has today is the goodwill of its supporters and the credibility among a small section of India’s elite. Our success will continue to come from this, hopefully growing constituency.

The eightfold path to transforming India

A step-by-step guide for the awakened citizen

Outline of my video address to the Model Youth Parliament, September 2014

Transforming India is a marathon, not a 100-metres sprint. You can’t change things overnight or in months. It takes years, decades & lifetimes. So you need to prepare and pace yourself accordingly. It needs stamina, endurance, determination, patience and training.

I want to offer you an Eightfold Path to Transforming India, and you will realise, to Transforming Yourself.

Step 1. Find the Right Balance between your self-interest and public interest, between selfishness and altruism, between thinking for yourself, your family and for the nation. Swinging to either extreme is dangerous. You must find your own Right Balance.

Step 2. Have the Right Faith, in the moral legitimacy of the Indian Republic. It is the Republic that guarantees our Liberty, that upholds our Pluralism and that protects our Democracy. Do not believe ignorant or ideological critics who run down our Republic. It is not perfect, but it is better than other options. It is up to each generation to strengthen and improve the working of the Republic.

Step 3. Learn the Right Ideas. Take the effort to understand and promote good ideas. Good ideas in public affairs come from the scientific method, from economic reasoning and from open-mindedness. Not from dogma or authority. Beware of your intuition.

Step 4. Do the Right Politics. Politics is not a bad word in itself. It is Bad People who make Bad Politics. Good people can do Good politics. When Good people do Good politics, Politics becomes Better. Join political parties. But don’t give up your Goodness.

Step 5. Right Organisation. You cannot achieve public outcomes alone, by being a Lone Wolf. Gather the right team. Form the Right Organisation. Create and join the Right Networks.

Step 6. Right Contribution. Some people have knowledge, others have money, yet others have time. Contribute what you can. Stand for election. Join political campaigns. Donate money to political parties. Join NGOs that work to improve politics.

Step 7. Right Voting. Vote in Every Election. Every Time.

Step 8. Right Engagement. Keep in touch with your MP, MLA, Municipal Councillor or Gram Panchayat Member. Keep reminding them about the issues you care about. Use online methods, write letters and go and meet them.

I want to congratulate you on choosing to step up and do something for India. Reflect on the Eightfold path and act on it if it helps you. All the very best.

(This is a shortened version of a speech first delivered at the Mahabodhi Society Hall, Bhubaneshwar, at an event organised by the Round Table 53)

Good ideas, not just honest people

The politics of populism or misplaced notions of polity?

An interview with Sunday Guardian‘s Atul Dev on the Aam Aadmi Party’s government’s actions in Delhi.

The AAP’s dharna against the Delhi Police officers was termed unconstitutional by many. What is your view regarding this?

(Nitin Pai). Anyone going on a dharna is adopting non-constitutional methods. As Ambedkar says, there is no place for non-constitutional methods when constitutional methods are available. For a chief minister to go on a dharna is doubly disturbing because an official sworn to uphold the constitution is resorting to non-constitutional methods. It sets a bad example — if everyone who feels dissatisfied with the “system” decides to adopt non-constitutional methods, what is the yardstick by which society decides what to do? We will end up with the law of the jungle, and the strong will prevail over the weak.

Q. How do you react to Arvind Kejriwal being labelled an anarchist, and if you agree, how will it affect the political atmosphere of Delhi?

A. Mr Kejriwal might or might not be an anarchist, but the methods he adopted legitimise people breaking rules and due processes, based on their own assessment of right and wrong. This is a formula for anarchy, as in a diverse country like India, almost everyone has a grievance, almost everyone believes that his cause is right and almost everyone believes that they’ve waited too long for justice.

Q. Many wrote off Arvind Kejriwal as the Lokpal movement came to close. What do you think were the major factors responsible for him coming to power?

A. There is clearly a wide-open governance gap because the UPA government almost entirely lost the plot, and was unable to even persuade people that there is a coherent government in charge. There are also underlying factors: urbanisation, sizeable middle class, instruments like RTI and social media created the conditions for urban India to begin to find its political footing. These factors, plus some clever old-style populist political promises helped Mr Kejriwal win. Continue reading “Good ideas, not just honest people”

A new system is not the answer

The best way to transform India is by making the system work as it should

In a post on his very active Facebook page, Ashwin Mahesh—public policy activist, scientist and politician, all rolled into one—briefly minutes the key theme at workshops he attended in New Delhi: “The basic premise before us now is that the ‘whole system is broken’, so we can’t just offer different solutions that we would like to implement within the existing system. Instead, we need to come up with a new system itself, and that’s where the real hope for the country lies.”

Such sentiments have never been uncommon in India, and certainly not over the last two years, when the confluence of a bad governance, policy paralysis, economic mismanagement and flagrant corruption pushed the middle class out from apathy to outrage. As serious observers have noticed—see, for instance, Anil Padmanabhan’s Mint column today—this churning is due to a gap in what India is and what its crop of politicians think it is. While it is unclear at this time what the churning will lead to, how India’s elite and its middle class act now will determine whether or not the inevitable change will be for the better or for worse.

The quest for ‘a new system’, however, ignores the Indian reality. If it gains traction, it risks plunging us into an even more illiberal system.

Why so? First, contrary to the middle class narrative, Indian democracy is actually working for those who participate in it. Those who find the system “broken” are usually those who are excluded from it, or those who have chosen to exclude themselves from it. Those who are satisfied with the current system are unlikely to be enthusiastic supporters of upheaval. How do we know there are these satisfied people? Because we don’t have blood on the streets despite the immense diversity, social inequality and income disparity. No matter what India Against Corruption and the urban middle classes might say, corruption is not an issue that’ll move the masses into supporting an overhaul. What outrages the middle class, what the middle class says it is outraged by is just one of the many factors in the voter’s mind.

Second, if there has to be a “new system”, then very long established interest groups—with more crowd-pulling power than Arvind Kejriwal—have their own ideas what it should look like. Some of them—like the Naxalites—have guns and do not hesitate to use violence to push their own case. Delegitimising the existing system will create openings for various groups wishing to overthrow the Indian state. The ultimate arbiter in a contest between them will be force.

Third, studying the Constitution and the debates that led to its creation leads one to the conclusion that the founding fathers were far more visionary, liberal and broad-minded than the current lot. Any election for a constituent assembly is going to throw up people who won’t be dissimilar in disposition than the current members of parliament and legislative assemblies. Looking at the way successive generations of MPs have distorted the letter & spirit of the constitution, it is reasonable to assume that the product of their deliberations will be a grotesque assault on liberties. (No, the good people who lead apolitical movements do not have any legitimacy to create a new constitution for an already-functioning democratic republic).

Finally, there’s no guarantee that the new system will work any better than the current one if our attitudes do not change. Our attitudes are the reason why we have bad governance, and not vice versa. If this causal direction is right, even if we acquire a ‘new system’, we’re back to square one. Actually, accounting for the above, perhaps to square minus-ten.

The Constitution and the Indian Republic are India’s best hope. Strengthening the Republic by getting better people into parliament, into government and at all levels of government is the right way. The talent, passion and energy of middle India, its intellectuals and its leaders ought to be directed towards this end.

Three thoughts on Independence Day

We and our politics

For contemplation in Independence Day—V’s question, on a law that takes away our freedom and on the reality of our political spectrum.

The Three Thoughts Archive:
Three thoughts on Independence Day 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004;
and on Republic Day 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005.

Return and reforms

Will Manmohan Singh’s return to the finance ministry result in some reforms?

Pranab Mukherjee, an over-rated, over-respected and over-portfolioed cabinet minister presided over the finance ministry at a time when the results of UPA government’s gross mismanagement of the Indian economy began to show. His remedies worsened the malaise—not only has the economy slowed down, domestic and foreign investors have been given reason to believe that India’s economic managers are not only unserious, but also nearly banana. Retrospective taxation—Mr Mukherjee’s gift to economic policymaking—is an abomination and exemplifies how awfully perverted the UPA government’s thinking has been.

So, with Mr Mukherjee out of the cabinet (and undeservingly heading for Rashtrapati Bhavan) and Manmohan Singh taking over the finance portfolio, what are the prospects for reforms? None at all, argues the astute Swaminathan Anklesaria-Aiyar. Quite a lot, contends Sanjaya Baru. The truth may be in the middle, but despite Mr Baru’s valiant cheerleading, the odds are stacked up in favour of Mr Aiyar’s prognosis.

Samanth Subramanian sought my views for his report in The National. Here is my full response to his questions:

Q. Do you think the PM has the political capital he needs to make bold changes? Do you think, for that matter, that the government will risk making possibly unpopulist changes with the elections less than two years away?

Whether or not there will be any reforms depends on how much Manmohan Singh is willing to face down the Congress party establishment in order to secure his own place in history. It’s not so much about political capital but as he said in his 1991 speech “Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai/Dekhna hai zor kitna baazu-e-qatil mein hai.” Does he have Sarfaroshi ki tamanna?

Q. How much can any possible economic reforms redeem Manmohan Singh’s otherwise awful leadership of this UPA government?

What Manmohan Singh can do at this stage is revive the narrative of reforms, by setting out a long-term road map and by implementing the ones he can. The signal this will send will help set the economy back on track and hopefully redeem his own record.

Q. If you had to make a short, three-item wish list of reforms you hope he could enact, what would that list be?

Liberalise education, liberalise labour laws and start fixing land acquisition. Toying with fuel subsidies, reversing GAAR etc is mere signaling…the fundamental strengths of the economy can be reinforced only by liberalising education, labour and land acquisition. Playing around with financial markets and FIIs is mere tinkering. He must do what is necessary to revive direct investment, both domestic and foreign.

Niti-mandala – The Indian Political Spectrum

Beyond simplistic notions of left, right and centre

Nitimandala - The Indian Political Spectrum
Where do you stand?

Where do you think you stand?

An explanatory note

This chart is the result of years of agonising over the fact that India’s political discourse is ill-served by oversimplified and effectively meaningless labels of “Left”, “Right”, “Secular”, “Communal” and so on. Perhaps the only meaningful label was “Communist”, which unfortunately still has its adherents.

The question was—below the slogans, rhetoric and ’causes’—what might be the real bases on which we could determine where Indian people and their political parties stand? Identity is certainly one dimension. It animates our politics, even if it is considered politically incorrect. There is politics around local identities (caste, community, ethnicity, language and geography). There is politics around nationality. And there is politics of internationalism (ideological or religious) that goes beyond nationality. So identity is assigned the horizontal axis.

The other important dimensions along which there is real variation in our politics are individual freedom and economic freedom. There are people who believe in one but not the other. We could these on axes of their own, resulting in a three-dimensional space that would be more accurate but would drive away most people. If we divide each axes into low, medium and high, there would be 27 pigeonholes. Indian politics is complex and even 27 pigeonholes may be too few to fully describe it, but such a model would surely fail as a tool of building political awareness, which is the purpose of this exercise.

So I flattened reality into two dimensions by combining individual and economic freedoms into a composite dimension called liberty. This makes sense because the two ought to go together. It does lose some detail because in reality there are people who do not see the two as going together, for real people are not bound by the need to be logically consistent.

Once we cast the mandala in this manner, we have nine types of political ideologies. Libertarians (or classical liberals), Socialists, Communists and Centrists are easily understandable. I have argued the case for Liberal Nationalism on this blog. Cultural Nationalists are those who believe that Indians ought to respect traditional values and practices either through social mores or through legislation.

While working on this, I found the third column most interesting because it threw up unexpected results. Among those who centre their politics around narrower identities, for instance around their state, linguistic group, caste community, local identity and so on, are there those who differ in the extent they uphold liberty? Examine state politics and you’ll notice that there are. Although few state political parties go about claiming to be “Liberal Regionalists” or “Parochialists”, in practice, some are more tolerant, laissez-faire, market-friendly, business friendly and open than others. These state- and sub-state level distinctions are seldom captured in India’s overall political discourse.

And then, there are the Conservatives. Because of the immense diversity, conservative Indians are not Indian Conservatives. The former are usually ‘local’ conservatives, seeking to preserve and perpetrate local values and social structures. Indian Conservatives are more likely to be Cultural Nationalists, who defend the cultural unity of India, albeit on their own terms.

The Niti-mandala project is a work in progress. It seeks to promote an informed political discourse by providing a graphical representation of the reality of our politics. It is not fully complete or wholly accurate—it cannot be, unless we bring in n-dimensional hypercubes, and increase ‘n’ to larger and larger values until they tend to infinity. Whatever its academic appeal, the complexity will drive away most people (even those who, like me, have had to deal with n-dimensional hypercubes before graduating). Its purpose is served if it helps us go beyond the ridiculously oversimplified categories of Left, Right and various points in-between.

Finally—the lines separating the pigeonholes are arbitrary. But just as seven colours in the rainbow are a useful simplification, these boxes are too. It is good not to take these lines and boxes too seriously. The danger of labels is that they compel you to behave as the label expects you to. Avoid falling into that trap.

The Great Middle Indian Churning of 2011

Where do we go from here?

Here’s a piece that I wrote for The Atlantic online last week:

India’s Great Middle-Class Moment
After decades on the sidelines, the growing ranks of Middle India are starting to find their voice. But can the political system respond?

NEW DELHI, India — What should the world make of the remarkable political churning in India this year? People around the world are braving bullets for the right to vote but here we were, turning out in the streets in large numbers, supporting demands made by such self-appointed leaders of civil society as the hunger-striking Anna Hazare for a draconian anti-corruption law.

Parallels with an “Arab Spring” in India don’t fit, not least because we last did that kind of anti-regime business in August 1942, when Indian nationalists mobilized non-violent protests to get the British to quit India. And when Indira Gandhi dispensed with constitutional niceties and assumed dictatorial powers in the mid-1970s, we threw her regime out in 1977 not by shouting her down in the town square but by voting her out at the polling booth. Her return to power a couple of years later, again through the electoral route, proved the regime changing power of India’s electoral democracy.

India’s political churning this year probably heralds a new phase in Indian politics, with the urban middle-class joining the political process. For a long time, this group has seen politics as a spectator sport, to be watched on television in between cricket and Bollywood. Repulsed by the choices on offer in the political menu, unenthused by the anachronistic agenda of mainstream parties and therefore unwilling to spend the time to go out and vote, the middle class Indian has, in terms of political involvement, practically seceded from the Indian republic. Meanwhile, economic growth has propelled ever-greater numbers of people into the middle class, inflating its numbers and amplifying its expectations from the Indian state.

The mainstream political parties missed the plot entirely. The Indian National Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) coalition government, which first came to power in 2004, set back the process of economic liberalization, by stalling on economic reforms, ostensibly in the name of the “common man.” This led to cronyism on the top — the last decade saw the expansion of family-held conglomerates rather than the start-up successes of the ’90s. It also led to rampant corruption in sectors of the economy that were untouched by reforms. The Congress and its allies purchased electoral mileage by introducing entitlements for the rural poor, but Middle India was too rich to be bought off and too poor to be sold to. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which demonstrated a reformist outlook when it led a coalition government at the turn of century, has since become loath to challenge the Congress party’s economic idiom, even after this approach failed it in the 2009 elections.

For the Middle Indian, stalled reform, cynical manipulation of constitutional institutions by the UPA government, and the entrenchment of an entitlement economy all meant inflation, corruption, and insecurity. Continue reading “The Great Middle Indian Churning of 2011”

Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Bill, 2011

The following is the civil society’s draft of the Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Bill, 2011 (also known as Jan Fast Pal or #FastingBill2011). This Bill has been compiled using inputs from members of the civil society including @Acorn, @Pragmatic_D, @Calamur, @Filter_C, @SudhaKanago, @Smitaprakash, @mango_indian, @sjagadish and @spinoza9642 The full list of participants and their deliberations is available from these archives. You may also download the Bill in PDF format.

 

FASTING & POLITICAL BLACKMAIL (REGULATION) BILL, 2011

An Act to create an effective framework for regulating the lawful practice of fasts, hunger strikes and other forms of political blackmail through the establishment of a Fasting Regulatory Authority, that shall also be known as Jan Fast Pal.

  1. Short title and commencement:
    1. This Act may be called the Fasting & Political Blackmail (Regulation) Act, 2011, or the Jan Fast Pal Act.
    2. It shall come into force on the one hundred and twentieth day of its enactment.
    3. Fasting for the purposes of voluntary or peer-pressured religious observances shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act.
    4. The Union President, the Union Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act.
  2. Equality
    1. All Fasters shall be treated equally, regardless of race, religion, standing and credit rating.
  3. Definitions:
    1. A Fast means any act of voluntary non-consumption of any solid or semi-solid food, or beverages exceeding 20 kilo calories per 330 ml in a three-hour period; and, conducted in the presence of mainstream media.
  4. Prohibitions
    1. No person under the minimum age for the consumption of alcoholic beverages obtaining in any State in Union shall be permitted to fast. People below the permitted minimum age, may, however, carry wax-fuelled simple combustion based illuminating devices after sunset or 7pm, whichever is earlier.
    2. A successful Fast unto Death will only be permitted three times during the lifetime of an individual.
    3. No person by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or by reason of deception shall be considered to have fasted.
    4. Fasters may not fast within 100m from any licensed restaurant, cafe or drinking house.
    5. Fasting is not permitted in government premises, property & rolling stock of Indian Raiways, airports & aircraft.
    6. No one may fast within 100m of the Line of Control, Line of Actual Control and international border
    7. No person under permanent service to any State or Union government department, including police and armed services are permitted to fast unless authorised by the respective State or Union government.
  5. Arrangements
    1. Each district will earmark separate areas, preferably in the form of perfect geometric shapes in order to assist succinct media description of the same.
    2. Fasting areas shall offer public amenities and comply with prevailing safety regulations. At least three parking spaces, no less than 200cm X 300 cm shall be made available for mobile broadcasting vehicles, of which at least one will be reserved for national, state and regional language media. Where Fasting is conducted by minorities, parking space reservations shall not apply.
    3. Women fasters must be provided with enclosed spaces upon request.
  6. Fasting Regulatory Authority
    1. A Fasting Regulatory Authority, also known as Jan Fast Pal, shall be established to administer this Act.
    2. The National Fasting Authority shall comprise of eleven individuals in good standing, preferably with previous fasting experience. They shall have a term of 5 years.
    3. To avoid conflict of interest, the Jan Fast Pal and its officials shall not be permitted to Fast as long as they are in office.
    4. The chairperson of the National Fasting Authority shall be selected by a committee that includes at least one television chef with not less than 52 half-hour-equivalent episodes, one five-star Michelin chef of Indian-origin, Nobel prize winner of Indian-origin and a Magsaysay award winner of Indian-origin. In the event of unavailability of such individuals, eminent persons from civil society shall appoint eminent persons from civil society.
    5. Government will appoint such persons as it thinks fit, having the prescribed qualifications, to be Inspectors of Fasts.
  7. Conditions for the conduct of Fasts
    1. Applications to Fast must clearly identify the Fasters and Fastees, and must be submitted in triplicate 48 hours in advance.
    2. Fasters must, at the time of application, specify the reasons of their Fast & conditions of termination thereof.
    3. A citizen will be permitted to fast for only one cause at a time.
    4. Fasters cannot fast on behalf of others. Commutative, additive and distributive laws shall not be applicable. Fasters who cause others to fast by financial or other inducements shall be fined up to Rs 5000 and one year of rigorous imprisonment.
    5. Fasters must specify consumption of liquids, including calorific value and purity levels.
    6. An officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police or above can force feed the faster after giving due warning in writing.
    7. No fast shall be deemed to have started or been broken unless certified by the National Fasting Authority.
    8. Fasters must obtain a certificate from a registered medical practitioner certifying that they were full when the fast started.
    9. Fasters must record their weight, blood sugar count and blood pressure every 3 hours and file it with the sub-registrar.
    10. Fasters cannot claim rations or entitlements under the food security act for the entire duration of their fast.
    11. Income from fasts by way donations, extortion and misappropriation shall attract Income Tax at the prevailing rates. Fasters cannot claim tax exemptions or dearness allowance for the duration of the fast
    12. No commercial advertisements of any kind are permitted within 50m from the location of the fast.
    13. Withdrawing from a Fast before fasting, also known as pulling a fast one, shall be permitted. It shall be counted as a Fast for the purposes of Section 4(2) of this Act.
  8. Dispute resolution
    1. Where two or more individuals or groups of Fasters go on a Fast until Death over a zero-sum dispute, the Government shall serve notice to all Fasters on the need to resolve the dispute using judicial or electoral means.
    2. In the event that two or more individuals or groups of Fasters continue their Fasting despite being served a notice under Section 8(1) above, the Fasting Regulatory Authority’s Inspector of Fasts shall allow the Fasts to proceed. The individual or group of Fasters that Fasts longer shall be deemed to have prevailed.
    3. Individuals or groups of Fasters who do not prevail in such circumstances may not Fast on for the same reason for a period of three calendar years. This is without prejudice to other individuals or groups Fasting for the same purpose, or the same individuals or groups seeking recourse to judicial or electoral methods.
  9. Power to make regulations
    1. The Union Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules to carry out the provisions of this Act.
    2. This Act shall be applicable to territorial and extra-territorial States, and Union Territories of India, and in the case of Jammu & Kashmir, after ratification by the State Assembly.
    3. No suit, prosecution or other proceeding shall lie against the Government for anything done in good faith, in pursuance of its duties under this Act.
    4. The Union government shall make every attempt, especially at the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council, and the Non-aligned Movement, to sponsor a UN Resolution on Fasting, that shall universalise the principles enshrined in this Act.

Note: Under an amendment introduced by some other friendly members of civil society, the word the term “Jan Vrat Pal” appearing in the first draft of this bill was replaced with “Jan Fast Pal” to avoid misunderstanding.